Supporting our Veterans
Canada’s men and women in uniform make tremendous sacrifices on our country’s behalf. I hear from many of you, often, that we need to continually be working to do more, and offer more support to current members of the Canadian Armed Forces and our Veterans. Our Conservative Government is committed to ensuring that this support is adequate and available. Indeed, since coming into office, our Government has taken strong action to improve the services and benefits available to Canada’s Veterans. We’ve invested over $5 billion in new funding to support Veterans programs. And, we remain focused on building on that strong record, to help ensure that Veterans and their families have the care and support they need.
The health and well-being of Canada’s Veterans is an important focus for our Government. We are investing in new and expanded mental health initiatives, and we launched the Mental Health Services for Veterans Action Plan to help ensure that Canada’s Veterans have access to a robust suite of mental health services in a timely manner. We opened a new Operational Stress Injury clinic in Halifax, Nova Scotia with front-line mental health professionals and experts. We are also opening additional satellite clinics across Canada. In addition, we are investing in mental health research, digitizing Canadian Armed Forces member health records, expanding the Road to Mental Readiness education campaign, and more.
Our Government has also set out to make accessing services and benefits easier for Veterans. We have cut red tape – eliminating over 2 million unnecessary forms, emails and letters between Veterans and Veterans Affairs. We improved the My VAC Account, launched a partnership with Service Canada to provide more than 600 points of service across the country, improving access to the information and services our Veterans need.
Recognizing the unique challenges that Canada’s men and women face when transitioning into civilian life, our Government has also introduced targeted measures to ease the transition. We are helping Canada’s Veterans build meaningful second careers in the public sector with programs like Hire a Veteran and Helmets to Hardhats. And, through the Veterans Hiring Act, we will provide Veterans with priority access to employment opportunities in the federal public service. Canada’s Veterans have valuable skills, training and experience that make them strong candidates for civilian employment, and our Government is committed to helping them in this transition.
Canada is indebted to the service of our Veterans, and our Conservative Government is also committed to honouring their sacrifices and accomplishments. The Last Post Fund is just one example of how we are honouring the tremendous sacrifices of Canada’s Veterans. We doubled the funeral and burial amounts, and extended it to modern Veterans, ensuring that Canada’s Veterans are laid to rest respectfully. And to ensure that the legacy of Canada’s Veterans is remembered, our Government has invested in numerous national and international commemorative events including the inaugural National Day of Honour.
And now, as we remain committed to responding to the needs of Canada’s Veterans and their families, our Government is introducing new measures to improve the range of services and benefits available.
To help ensure that Canada’s Reserve Veterans get the respect and support they deserve, our Government is enhancing the Earnings Loss Benefit that is available to them. Our measures will increase the minimum income amount for reservists so that it is equal to the minimum amount of a Regular Forces Veteran. This increase is also extended to the survivor of a reservist.
We are also introducing the Retirement Income Security Benefit, to ensure that injured Veterans have financial support beyond the age of 65. It will also provide further support for their families, with continued payments to the Veteran’s survivor.
We are expanding eligibility for the Permanent Impairment Allowance program to include Veterans who have severe and permanent limitation in mobility or self-care, increasing the financial support for more injured Veterans.
The proposed new Critical Injury Benefit (CIB), will provide a $70,000 tax-free award to support the most severely injured and ill Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and Veterans.
And, our proposed Family Caregiver Relief Benefit will provide eligible Veterans a tax-free grant of $7,238 annually, to provide informal caregivers – most often family members – a well-deserved break. This benefit will help cover the cost of bringing a professional caregiver into the home to help ensure the continued care of injured Veterans.
These new measures build on the continuum of care available to Canada’s Veterans injured in service. They respond directly to the concerns raised by the Standing Committee of Veterans Affairs, Veterans and stakeholders. The Royal Canadian Legion said the new initiatives are “very much welcomed.”
Canada’s Veterans have served our country valiantly, and our Conservative Government is focused on delivering the services and support they need, and deserve.
Bruce Stanton, M.P.